Cute newts – might they be on the way out too?

Two Smooth Newt larvae and one Large Red Damselfly larva

These newtpoles were photographed by my colleague Jo Fever in her Mum’s pond which prompted me to have a little browse around to see what new things people were saying about newts.

One thing that struck me as quite interesting was a study of the effects of warming temperatures on the hatching of the eggs of Palmate Newts.

At higher temperatures animals brought into the lab. laid fewer eggs, and fewer of those eggs hatched too. So, as temperature increased from 14 C to 22 C the number of eggs laid dropped by half. These temperatures were within the natural range experienced by the newts during their courtship season.

Does this mean than Palmate Newts are doomed by global warming: obviously it’s nothing like as simple as that. Does it mean they might be affected by higher temperatures: we’ll that seems possible.

Perhaps as interesting, this might help to explain the distribution of Palmate Newts now – they are, in Britain, the more westerly and northerly species of our two common newts (though confusingly they do occur on acid soils in the south-east too).

Palmate Newt distribution

Smooth Newt distribution

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